Ancient Lakes (Apr 15-16, 2017)

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ancient_lks_coverConditions: backpack
Gear: overnight gear
Map: USGS Rocky Reach Dam
Area: Quincy, WA
Reference: n/a
Stats: 10.18mi, 1338' gain (round trip)

The original plan was to head down to Mt Rainier to do a snow camp but I buggered up my right shoulder and wasn't sure I could carry the weight of an overnight pack. Then I thought of heading over to Ancient Lakes. It was shorter, flatter and I figured it certainly could hike the few miles into a campsite with the heavy pack. This ended up being a great idea. Weather was supposed to be nice on the west side but when we returned from our trip to Ancient Lakes it sure looked like thought it might have been was likely pretty cloudy. Over in Quincy we had sun and blue skies.

It is a long drive out to Quincy...but we only had to hike into we didn't exactly get a super early start.

Note: There are two approaches to Ancient Lakes. One is from the upper trailhead (closer to Stan Coffin Lake) which is just off White Trail Road. The trail goes past Judith Pool. The other trailhead is the one I've always used, the trailhead is closer to the Columbia River and the trailhead is at the end of Ancient Lake Road.

We reached our trailhead and found that it was pretty full. Lots of hikers, horse people, even mountain bikers. I did not expect that we'd have the lakes to ourselves but I was surprised by how many people were using the area. I've been to the lakes before but it seems like in the past few years the lakes area has seen a huge bump in visitation. No problem I thought, as the evening would approach I knew many of the day visitors would disappear.

We parked our car, sorted out our gear, and headed in.

Note: Water...don't filter water from the lakes. The entire area is drainage for agricultural runoff. There is no telling what is in that water that can't be filtered out. Best to carry in the water needed. It's a short hike after all.

The basin has several old roads that criss-cross the area. We followed those roads in following the road/trail that stays close to the north side of the potholes area. The trail leads you right to the trio of 3 large "lakes" at the far end. From here we could see many of the standard campsites were already taken. We talked about where to head next and decided to head to a small rise just west of the southernmost pothole. There was an established campsite here. The real advantage is that we were far enough in the open that as the sun set and rose we wouldn't be shaded by the coulee walls. We pitched out tent and decided to hike up to the Dusty Lake overlook.

The trail up the bench had lots of flowers, zillions of shooting stars! The overlook to Dusty Lake is nice. We could see some people in floats fishing in the lake. We back-tracked a bit and followed a trail that headed up a weakness at the southeast side of the basin area to the bench up top. Lots of flowers starting up high here. We wandered around a bit, then headed back down to camp for dinner and the sunset (which was spectacular).

Morning arrived and after breakfast and packing up camp, we headed over to the waterfalls. I dropped my pack and decided to watch as Steve went exploring. After he returned we hiked back out to the car.

Stats: 8.61mi, 1037' gain

Driving back to Seattle we decided to take a break at Ginkgo Petrified Forest. I is right off I-90 and I've passed it countless times but never stopped. It gave us a chance to get in a tiny bit more mileage. It's an interesting stop. Amazing the types of trees that were growing in the area so long ago.

Stats: 1.57mi, 301' gain
Ancient Lakes Slideshow

ancient_lks_map ginkgo_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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